Scientists have linked the early start of an intense summer to climate change, saying there were well over a billion people in India and neighboring Pakistan who were left vulnerable to severe heat.

With monsoon rains expected next month and power cut-offs in some parts of India continuing into next month, even households who can afford air conditioning are little likely to take any reprieve in coming weeks.

Many of the deaths in Maharashtra took place in rural areas of India’s wealthiest state.

“These are suspected heat stroke deaths,” Pradeep Awate, healthcare official in Maharashtra, told Reuters news agency.

India is the second-largest wheat producer in the world, but this year’s harvest, after more than five years of record harvests, is being dragged down by hot temperatures.

With increasing demand for electricity, power companies have been staring down the barrel of the massive shortage of coal, and the government is asking them to increase imports.

India recorded its warmest March in more than a century as the maximum temperature surged nationwide to 33.1C, almost 1.86 degrees above normal, the India Meteorological Office said.

Temperatures in many parts of India’s north, west and east soared above 40.000 degrees last month, the state’s warmest on record.

Odisha

Odisha ), formerly Orissa , is an Indian state located in Eastern India. It is the 8th largest state by area, and the 11th largest by population. (wikipedia)